During the first practice day of the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb we checked out Monster Tajima's new electric-powered E-runner and watched the Vintage and Exhibition divisions roar up the mountain. Our second day, however, was reserved for the fastest of the groups – Unlimited, Time Attack and Open Wheel – which were running in the bottom portion of the course that determines qualifying times.

While one might think that the Unlimited class would be less interesting without Monster Tajima and Rhys Millen in the mix, this year's grouping is perhaps more intriguing than ever. Two Ford RS200s are entered this year, Lovefab Motorsports has brought its radical 850-horsepower Acura NSX and the open-cockpit Palatov Motorsport D4 Pikes Peak Special is making its debut.

Some of the usual names have come back as well. Paul Dallenbach is aiming to take down the overall record once again with an updated version of his turbocharged 1,400-horsepower winged monster, and Jean-Philippe Dayraut has returned for a second year with his Nissan GT-R-powered Dacia Duster. The Frenchman looked quick enough to easily improve on his overall time of 10:17.707 set last year, setting the fastest time of the day with segment time of 3:54.96. Dallenbach was second fastest with a time of 3:59.70, followed by David Donner in the Palatov Motorsport entry with a 4:10.31.

2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Returning to Time Attack (2WD and AWD have been combined for 2012) after competing in the Unlimited division for the last two years, Rhys Millen is looking to take back the class record set by his father, Rod Millen, last year. To do so he's brought an updated version of his Hyundai Genesis Coupe race car fitted with a new engine and wider body that can fit larger tires. The changes seem to have made a positive effect, as Millen blew away the Time Attack competition with a segment time of 4:06.24 – the fourth fastest of any class. Four-time SCCA World Challenge GT champion Randy Pobst was second fastest, putting in a run of 4:22.75 in his 2001 Audi A4, followed by David Kern's 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with a 4:25.23.

We'll have more coverage of the Unlimited and Time Attack classes when they take on the middle section of the course tomorrow morning for the third and final practice day. Until then, browse through our photos from today in the gallery above and check out the video of Millen's qualifying run below.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Is this actually going to air anywhere? It's hard enough to find the race on TV in years where it airs at its usual time.
      • 2 Years Ago
      That Rhys Millens car sounds awful. The engine sounds as if it's about to stall in the lower RPMs.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm surprised how good that Genesis Coupe looks in hillclimb trim.
      • 2 Years Ago
      that's a much better looking genesis coupe right there. without the alient mouth
      • 2 Years Ago
      That is sweet looking Genesis.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Number23 approves of the Ford RS200. Number23 always approves of Group B rally cars. Always.
      Robert Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Has the entire course been paved?
        Chris Doan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Robert Ryan
        Yeah, it was the result of a lawsuit. This year's running is the first time entirely on tarmac, thus the combining of 2WD and AWD with live axles actually having a chance now.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Go Palatov Motorsport team!
        Aaron C
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yes! go palatov!! Been fooling his blog for years, would so awesome to see them podiom!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Really digging that RS200...... Boy I wish Ford was wise enough to make an awesome car like that again. Inline 4 with AWD, 5 speed manual, 23 psi and 444 horsepower, 361 torque, 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. 1984 - 1986. I would buy one of these over ANY Ford produced to date. Even the GT500 or Ford GT. I'll park a Cosworth Escort right next to it, next to my Lancer Evolution IX. Would love to find more available street legal rally cars here in America. We get the shaft when it comes to these wonderful misunderstood cars.
        EXP Jawa
        • 2 Years Ago
        Ah yes, your Lancer Evo. Didn't take long. How come you aren't one of the competitors on the hill this year, as awesome as that car is? Frankly, I agree that the RS200 actually is an awesome car. But seriously, "wise enough to make an awesome car like that again"? Do you really think that there is any margin in it for Ford to do that in this market? Do you really think there was any margin in the road going versions of those cars in the first place? You say you'd buy that over any car that Ford has built. You do realize that if you adjusted the road car's original price for inflation, back out the VAT and convert to USD, the car would cost $142K in today's dollars, right? Not that it isn't a relative bargain compared to more exotic-brand machinary, I just have my doubts that you'd actually spring for that. After all, you're likely to tell us that the Evo is a better performance bargain or somesuch. I'd say the wiser course for Ford is spending development dollars on cars that people actually buy and can afford. Frankly, 300+ HP, AWD rally hologation specials are - and will always be - a microniche of the market, despite what you believe. Ford realizes that.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I want to see some bike photos...
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'd sure like to go watch the hill climb one day. Have you all seen this, its not a rzr on a monster truck chasie http://www.rzrforums.net/pits/79812-2012-pikes-peak-utv-build.html
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great first image, though I can't help but thing how much better it'd be with the car kicking out dirt and a huge cloud of dust behind it... The one upside I can think of with the whole course now paved is that with the safety knowing the cars won't be banged up by the gravel, it will allow more cars to participate (by owners who normally would be afraid of the damage they would otherwise gain from the dirt run, like vintage race cars) as well as allow builders to be a little more radical with their designs.
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